Spruce vs. Cedar and Maple vs. Rosewood

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Topics archived from Public Space and its subforums after a long period of inactivity, or redundant for some other reason. This section is read-only.
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James Lister
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Location: Sheffield, UK

Spruce vs. Cedar and Maple vs. Rosewood

Post by James Lister » Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:21 am

Having recently completed my first ever cedar top guitar, and being in the unusual position of having 3 different guitars in the house at the same time, I thought it might be interesting to make a recording using all three, and see how difficult it is to tell the difference between cedar/spruce and rosewood/maple. This was inspired by Jason Wolverton's post a while ago comparing maple and rosewood. In theory at least, I would expect it to be somewhat easier to tell the difference between spruce and cedar than maple and rosewood, but we shall see.

The 3 guitars all have the same strutting patterns, same body dimensions, etc.

Guitar 1 - Spruce top and Maple back and sides.
Guitar 2 - Cedar top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides
Guitar 3 - Spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides

The recording is of Tarrega's Mazurka in G (which I've been meaning to post a recording of for a while anyway). The first section is repeated once, then there's a middle section, then the first section is repeated again. A different guitar is used for each of the repeated section. For ease of navigation, the section breaks are at the following times:

0m:0s Start (guitar A)
0m:49s Start of first repeat (guitar B)
1m:38s Start of middle section (guitar ?)
2m:20s Start of last repeat (guitar C)

Can you identify which section is played on which guitar? Bonus points if you can identify which guitar plays the middle section. I'd also like to know which you like best.

Here's the link:

http://www.jameslisterguitars.co.uk/Lis ... a_in_G.mp3

I've also posted the recording in "Our interpretations in MP3" if you want to comment on the playing - rather than the guitars!

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Azalais

Re: Spruce vs. Cedar and Maple vs. Rosewood

Post by Azalais » Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:50 am

I'll guess: 1,2,3,3

and I think I like #1 best...

Than you! I'll be very curious to learn the "truth" :wink:

Crispy

Post by Crispy » Mon Aug 13, 2007 12:04 pm

An interesting experiment, James.

Like Azalais the ? instrument sounds more like C, but as to which is which guitar ????

On my system B and C sound most similar so I would guess these are the 2 Spruce tops.

I notice on sections A and ? (middle section) there is a pronounced background hiss that is more or less absent on the other 2 sections. Did you record all at the same session? Do you know what might account for that hiss? Do you think this might also have affected the tonal qualities of each recording?

Ooops! Too many questions! All sound great and in isolation any of them would be very acceptable but my preference would probably be for G1, too.

Regards
Chris

wchymeUS

Post by wchymeUS » Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:14 pm

I have the same impressions, it'sprobably guitar C as well. However, the player changed a bit some dynamics ;-) (the second passage has more background noise which you seem to have worked on 3 and 4).
Anyways, I prefer C and like B as I found them warmer and I feel C probably has more potential for tone coloration. Unlike Az, I don't like guitar A as I found it a bit dry.

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James Lister
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Post by James Lister » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:09 pm

Apologies about the variable background levels - I'm using a fairly basic recording package, and the noise subtraction feature seems a bit variable - although it could just be me.

The recording conditions were as constant as I could make them - same microphone position, same room etc. I added a little reverb, and attempted to remove the background noise, but that's all.

I'll give it a few more days, then let you all know the answers.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Nando

Post by Nando » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:31 pm

I like the last one best.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Mon Aug 13, 2007 8:22 pm

wchymeUS wrote: Anyways, I prefer C and like B as I found them warmer and I feel C probably has more potential for tone coloration. Unlike Az, I don't like guitar A as I found it a bit dry.
I like that (dare I say "lute-like" :wink: ) crispness and clarity of A... because I know that with slightly lower tension strings, or different material strings, it could easily be warmed up, whereas the others have a built-in darker denser sound... for that reason I personally would prefer A, because it would give me more choices for interpreting different types of music (including early music) It would be a good chameleon guitar.

Russell

Post by Russell » Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:35 pm

mmmm, I think I would like to take this test in your laboratory :) under scientific conditions. i.e. Identical complete short pieces, with my ear just a few feet from the sound hole. (I am also a little deaf) :roll:

But seriously, while there are discernible differences in your three examples, it would be akin to me taking a blindfolded test ride in a Bentley or a Rolls. :D

Russ :)

pacfan

Post by pacfan » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:12 am

Just dropped by to join the 'guessing game.' I love these guitar guessing games to show my ignorance (lol) of, and more better, to learn more about the characteristics of, guitar sounds using different woods.

The only thing I can say for sure (almost, at least) is that the guitars used for the 1st, 2nd and the 4th parts are three different guitars, and the guitar used on the 1st and 3rd parts is the same one.

So here's my guess: 3,1,3, and 2.

Here's my analysis:

The guitar playing the 1st and 3rd part has a very raspy sound with a metallic timber. On the other hand the guitar playing the 2nd part has the same raspiness but with lesser metallic timbre - so they must have the same soundboard but with different tonewoods (sides/backs). Based on few experiences, I've noticed that Indian rosewoods tend to give a guitar more metallic timber than most other tonewoods; and so I think the guitar playing the 1st and 3rd has indian rosewood, while the one used on the second has maple as their tonewoods. Lastly, the guitar used on the 4th part has much less raspiness, and therefore has a more solid sound - a characteristic, I believe, of cedar/BR combination. (Geez, with all these talks and what if it turns out to be otherwise!)

...And the winner is...

Whatever woods it's made up of, the guitar playing last part is a clear winner! with no irritating rasps, and more solid and well balance sound.

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James Lister
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Post by James Lister » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:05 am

Russell wrote:mmmm, I think I would like to take this test in your laboratory :) under scientific conditions. i.e. Identical complete short pieces, with my ear just a few feet from the sound hole. (I am also a little deaf) :roll:

But seriously, while there are discernible differences in your three examples, it would be akin to me taking a blindfolded test ride in a Bentley or a Rolls. :D

Russ :)
Your very welcome to visit over here in Sheffield to do the blind test under more scientific conditions (but sorry I can't pay the air fare for you!) :)

Seriously though, it is more difficult to judge with a recording - especially with my rather modest recording equipment. Have a go anyway though - there have already been a few different answers, so you won't be alone if you get it wrong!

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

wchymeUS

Post by wchymeUS » Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:49 pm

I'm sure James is having a lot of fun :lol:

Robert England
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Post by Robert England » Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:32 pm

This is a fascinating experiment. I can't wait to see the results. If the "common knowledge" belief that these guitars should be easily distinguishable, especially the spruce vs. cedar tops, then most of the listeners should get it right, right?

I'm going to guess 1,2,3,3

Robert

Lemonsieur

Post by Lemonsieur » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:25 pm

Wow. This is pretty cool. Also hard. So many variables other than woods can play into the sound we hear. Can't wait to hear the true order.

Any way my guess is 3, 1, 3, 2.

As far as which recording I liked best. That would have to be recording 4 which i think is Guitar 2. It had the fullest sound and most presence.

Sasquatch51

Post by Sasquatch51 » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:44 pm

My guess is 1,3,3,2.

Natan

Post by Natan » Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:12 pm

1,3,4 sound pretty same for me. 1 & 3 probably closer. I seems, the second has better response in high frequencies. I have no idea how that should correlate with wood, so here is just a guess:
2, 1, 2, 3
1 i like the most.
Have fun!

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